Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Letter to Heaven

My Dear P,

I can't believe you're gone. I wish I could have said goodbye to you. When you walked into my classroom in December to wish me a merry Christmas, I wish I had told you how much I loved you. Remember - you were going to a wedding before school started again, and I wouldn't see you until you got back. I never saw you again.

When I came to Haiti seventeen years ago, you were one of the first people I met. You led a group session in Kreyol for the new teachers, and then you started meeting with us individually. I know Kreyol isn't top priority for many of the new teachers; they are so busy, and, after all, they use English most of the time. But for me it was pure pleasure. Since I already spoke French, the vocabulary came quickly. But also, I enjoyed spending time with you. You explained so many things to me about Haiti, and helped me learn to love it quickly. You always told me about the context, about why things were the way they were. You loved your country, even though you found it maddening sometimes. (Do you remember how you used to get embarrassed by the questions my husband would ask in his Kreyol lessons, when he would bring you words he had heard on the basketball court and ask you what they meant? You would tell him they were words he didn't need to know.)

A few years ago (five, maybe?), you and I became prayer partners, and I got to know you even better, and the depth of your commitment to God and to prayer. I think we need at least five people to replace the amount of praying you did for our school and for each of us. You didn't sleep well, so often you would get up in the middle of the night to pray. If those who are dead can intercede for those of us who are living (you and I had different training on that), I know you will do it. You always had scripture to share with me, too, and words of encouragement. You understood so many things that I didn't really talk to anyone else about.

My favorite story you ever told me was the one about the time you had traveled to the States, and while you were gone there was some political unrest, perhaps even as serious as a coup d'état, I can't remember. Your daughter was at your house, with an older relative, and you were very worried about them, but you couldn't get back right away. You had a dream about the house, and it was surrounded by giant hunky bodyguards. In your dream you wondered how on earth you were going to have enough food to feed them all. When you woke up, you realized that those bodyguards were angels, and that they were keeping watch over the people you loved. You stopped worrying, and by telling me that story you have stopped me from worrying in so many situations.

Now you have gone somewhere new. You're the one learning a new place, a beautiful, unimaginable one. But my friend, I don't think you need anyone to teach you the language or explain the culture to you. I am sure that this transition is natural to you, as someone who already spent so much time with God, and found in Him all that you needed. I remember you used to say you were a princess, a child of a King. Whether you were walking to church in the mud, or running home to prepare something for your husband, or lugging your ironing to school on a Saturday because there was electricity there, you always carried yourself like royalty. You said that God took care of you beautifully because you were His daughter.

You had no idea how much you meant to me, because I never told you. (I don't make that mistake any more, since the earthquake - at least, I am doing better than I used to about expressing to people how much I love them, since I'm so much more aware than I used to be that I might not get another chance.) I can't wait to see you again, P. It is so strange being back in Haiti and not seeing you in your regular spot, always with a joke or an encouraging comment. I hope I can be to others a tiny part of what you were to me, helping them adjust to living in Haiti, encouraging them, praying for them.

À la prochaine,

Ruth

3 comments:

elizabeth said...

Memory Eternal!

When I lost one of my closest mentors, who was like a Mother to me in so many ways, I wrote her letters. It was very important part of my healing at the time. During this period of grief God put into my hands various books by Catherine Marshall, of _A Man Called Peter_ fame and learned of the ancient churches practice of praying for those who have died and are now with Christ. I slowly understood that in Christ we are not seperated though physically we are. Intuitively I understood that this meant I could also ask her prayers.

I will pray for you about this loss; so much grief; yet Christ is in our midst. Sending a big *hug* to you.

Jessica said...

reading this brings back so many memories of her! Yes, "she carried herself like royalty. . . " and what a princess she was! This is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful princess.

T & T Livesay said...

beautiful ruth.